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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

The Deep End

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Now Playing» Band: The Doors Record: The Doors Track: The End Tiny victories win the war, right? Like I’ve said before, we need to simplify, dive deep. Here’s a little example of what I mean. Here’s a little victory. Let’s say you’re trying to teach endings. You’re teaching your chidlers (BFG) how to wrap it up. End it! How do you do it? First of all, endings can’t be taught unless…well, you’re at the end, so it’s not a first month of school lesson. Ralph Fletcher’s book, Live Writing, is a great little read that gives great examples on how to truly end your story. End it emotionally, humorously, surprisingly, and circularly. Anyhow, you teach endings by ending your story. Sure. But if we are diving deep, we find other ways to demonstrate “The End.” This isn’t a lesson on how to teach endings. I’m not going to insult your intelligence. This is a note to share how kids make connections, how they can dive deep. In the midst of my song writing unit, which is about the last three months of the year, this one particular girl dove deep, made the connection. To make a long story even shorter than the short version…I break my kids up into bands; they write, perform (if they can), and record a full length CD. (More posts to come about that whole revelation) We were finishing the recording of this particular song and bingo… “Let’s write a circular ending,” she said with delight. They did. We finished the song. And that lesson was rammed home months after it was taught and practiced over and over again. Minor victory in the grand plan of things, but a victory no less. She had that look in her eyes, that “trap look” that she wasn’t going to forget it. I gave her the opportunity. She took it. She applied it. END of story. How do you teach your kids to “End it!” a little differently? Movies? Cartoons? Music? Even better, how do you dive deep with instruction?

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Jamie Schwantes's picture

Those tiny victories swim around our classroom everyday. Are those moments evidence that you and your class entered the deep end together? If your thinking what I'm thinking than take those victories and think "how did I get here?" I think I get deep by building an environment where we all learn to trust in one another. We spend time reflecting about what worked and didn't work, what we learned and what we still don't understand. We build relationships with one another which allows us to talk out our conflicts on our own. We give ourselves time to explore as a learner, we don't race to the top.

Gaetan Pappalardo's picture
Gaetan Pappalardo
Teacher, Author, Guitar––Word.

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Band: Hootie and the Blowfish
Record: Cracked Rear View

Welcome to the Deep END of the pool, Jamie. Well said. I think "time" is how you get into the deep end. What happens to the kid who arrives at the pool and, without "thinking," jumps in. Sink. Time. Thinking needs time.


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